So, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines merged. What should you do with your Virgin America Visa Signature® credit card now?

Woman sitting on the ground at the airport wondering what to do with her Virgin America Visa Signature card now that Virgin and Alaska Airlines have merged. Woman sitting on the ground at the airport wondering what to do with her Virgin America Visa Signature card now that Virgin and Alaska Airlines have merged. Image:

In a Nutshell

Wondering what to do with your Virgin America Visa Signature® credit card now that Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have merged? You’re not alone. We’ll explain your options and help you decide what to do.

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Back in 2016, Alaska Airlines announced its acquisition of Virgin America.

This year in March, Alaska announced it would begin phasing out the Virgin America name and combining everything under the Alaska Airlines name.

If you’re a Virgin America Visa Signature® holder, this announcement likely left you wondering what happens now. Let’s take a look at the details of the merger and review a few of your options moving forward.


What we know

    • Alaska Airlines announced the Virgin America name will be fully retired sometime in 2019. Holders of Virgin America Visa Signature® can continue to earn and redeem points through the end of 2017, but as of January 1, 2018, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan will replace Virgin’s Elevate loyalty program to become the sole loyalty program for Virgin America.

 

    • Virgin America is no longer accepting applications for Virgin America Visa Signature® credit cards, and all open accounts will be closed on January 4, 2018.

 

    • Existing Virgin America Visa Signature® cards will not convert to Alaska Airlines Visa Signature®. Alaska is encouraging Virgin America credit card holders to check out the benefits of Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® issued by Bank of America.

 

  • Any Elevate points you’ve accumulated with Virgin can be used through the end of 2017, or converted into Alaska Mileage Plan™ miles at a rate of 1 point to 1.3 miles and used for travel on Alaska, Virgin America and Alaska Global Partners. If you don’t initiate the conversion by early 2018, your points will be automatically moved over into the Alaska Mileage Plan™.

A few options to consider

Apply for an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

From our partner

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is an excellent option for travelers who frequently fly on Alaska Airlines.

Cardholders are rewarded 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The value of Alaska Airlines miles depends on the region you’re flying in. However, those 30,000 bonus miles can be enough for a first class, one way trip within the continental U.S.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card holders also earn three miles for every dollar spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases and one mile per dollar spent on other purchases.

One of the other major perks of this card is Companion Fare™. Every year on their account anniversaries, cardholders receive “buy one, get one” tickets (with no blackout dates) for Alaska Airline and Virgin America flights booked on alaskaair.com. The cardholder pays a $99 base fare (plus taxes and fees that start as low as $22), then they and their companion are off!

In addition, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card comes with the following perks:

  • One free checked bag for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is active

The annual fee is $75. That’s higher than the $49 annual fee from Virgin America Visa Signature®, but it quickly pays for itself in the form of free checked bags and Companion Fare™ tickets.

Hold out for a deal

Another option to consider is holding on to your Virgin America Visa Signature® card and waiting for a deal from the bank to switch over to the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card.

It wouldn’t be the first time a bank has offered incentives to switch to another airline rewards card. Take a look at 2009, when Delta merged with Northwest Airlines. At the time, U.S. Bank issued the Northwest WorldPerks® Visa® card and American Express offered Delta SkyMiles®. Both banks engaged in marketing campaigns designed to lure holders of Northwest WorldPerks® to apply for new cards, which included offering bonus miles for switching.

Alaska isn’t doing much yet beyond making Virgin America customers aware of the perks that come with carrying an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card. But as the end date nears for Virgin America Visa Signature®, Alaska could decide to offer a deal to entice people to apply for its card rather than change to another travel rewards card.

And even if Alaska Airlines doesn’t offer a special deal to make the switch, you can still apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card and take advantage of its standard sign-up bonus. Or you can look into other airline rewards cards that offer bonuses and perks that fit your travel habits and preferences.

Best airline rewards programs for 2017

Consider applying for a different travel rewards card

Some travelers may simply choose to fly Alaska now that Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have merged. After all, Alaska has promised to adopt many of Virgin America’s brand elements that Virgin America loyalists love: in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and great customer service.

That said, this could also be an excellent opportunity to take a look at your other options. Spend some time looking into other airline rewards programs and their co-branded credit cards. You might even consider a general travel rewards card that isn’t tied to a particular carrier but offers lucrative returns and travel perks that are important to you.

At a glance: Best travel rewards cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card  Best flexible travel rewards
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Simple rewards program with no annual fee
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Great for hotel rewards
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Flexible redemption with no annual fee

Bottom line

Virgin America enthusiasts may be disappointed that their favorite airline brand won’t survive the merger with Alaska Airlines, but in the end, the switch could wind up benefiting them.

Take time to review your spending habits and the types of travel rewards that make the most sense for you. Then look for a credit card that will deliver the most bang for your buck. That can help you decide whether to make the switch over to the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card or get a different kind of card all together.


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